He always has had the urge to help others.
That’s why TJ Scott plans to study medicine at college next year. And that’s why he’s become such a force on the basketball courts.
ldquo;I want to be a doctor because I want to help people,” said Scott, a senior at Samuel Fels High School. “I’m the type of person who, when I see someone down, it motivates me to go harder because I want to be able to help them.”
This motivation also is beneficial to Scott as an athlete. A 6-foot-2 guard and forward on the hardwood, Scott has helped the Panthers go 5-3 in the Public League B Division, good enough for fourth place. (Samuel Fels was scheduled to face Engineering and Science on Tuesday, after the Times went to press this week.)
Samuel Fels squeezed past rival George Washington with a thrilling 57-55 victory on Thursday. Although the Panthers struggled throughout the first half, they didn’t let the Eagles get away.
George Washington gained an early lead and held it for most of the game. Samuel Fels got close on several occasions — even tying the score — but the Panthers never claimed the lead.
That is, until the last second.
With 25 seconds left in the game, Kyree Westbrooks netted a layup for the Panthers, tying the score at 55. The Eagles then had possession of the ball and strategically let the shot clock run. However, a botched shot by Washington and a quick Fels rebound gave the Panthers time for a miracle.
Nijay Kelly was the hero. The Fels senior scored the winning basket as the buzzer echoed to end the game.
ldquo;That is much to the credit of the kids. We were down by ten going into last two minutes of the game,” said Fels head coach Mark Heimerdinger. “The kids were very focused and stayed positive. They showed a lot of resiliency and toughness, and pulled the game out with a win.”
Kelly had a team-high 21 points; he has averaged 16.7 points per game this season. Scott was close behind, with 18 points.
“We started playing really hard. We started making shots,” said Scott. “We needed to put the ball in the basket, and we started to do that. We turned our defense up and we listened to our coach.
“That last minute was the longest minute of my life. All I was thinking about was getting the ball,” he added with a smile. “Coach says if we go after loose balls, we’re going to win games. We went after loose balls. We got a couple steals and we got back in the game.”
Samuel Fels has endured a roller-coaster ride this season. The Panthers had a rough start, with consecutive losses to University City and Del-Val, but then won five of their next six games.
“We are kind of up and down,” Scott explained. “One game, we’ll play great, and then the next game it’s like, ‘What the hell?’ We need to be consistent and stop playing down to people and we’ll be fine.”
Scott has embraced a pivotal role on this year’s squad. He’s currently averaging just shy of 12 points per game, and he’s a team co-captain. A transfer student from Martin Luther King, Scott joined the Panthers last winter, and his nine points per game made him the team’s second-highest scorer.
“Last year, TJ was a first-year varsity player for us. I actually had to call him in and explain to him that his behavior on the court was not acceptable,” Heimerdinger explained. “TJ was letting his emotions get the best of him. If he thought there was a bad call, he was reacting in a bad manner and that was affecting his play as the game went on, because he was so wrapped up in what happened two or three possessions ago.
“Much to his credit he changed it around to become a co-captain this year,” Heimerdinger continued. “He’s a kid that goes out there and plays as hard as he can, and that has carried over to the rest of the team.”
A native of Jamaica, Scott has called many places home over the past four years. His family initially settled in New York when he was 13, then moved to North Philly and, finally, the Northeast.
“I was at Martin Luther King. I was on the team but I didn’t really get in. There were better players than me. I played two minutes here and there,” said Scott, describing his freshman and sophomore seasons. “We moved to the Northeast, so my mom enrolled me in Fels and I fell in love with my coach.”
Scott’s traveling tendencies aren’t finished just yet. The senior is currently looking at colleges, applying to some as far away as California and Oklahoma. There is one much closer to home — Gwynedd Mercy College — that is currently recruiting Scott.
He hasn’t made a final decision yet. In the meantime, Scott is working hard to improve his academic and athletic resume.
“I love my classes. They’re going great … except French. I’m not really into French, but I’m trying really hard. I love math and science,” said Scott. “I study and I practice every day. My coach is confident in me. I’m motivated. I’m working hard because I want to keep getting better.” ••EndFragment